The beginning of the end

Edit: Mum died on 13th January 2016.  Her respiratory issues worsened and she slipped away peacefully in hospital.    I’ll leave the blog here in case it might be some use to someone else in a similar position.

 

This blog is a record of my elderly mother’s adventures in the world of home care and hospitals beginning in 2013.  With her express permission I made the decision to blog about our experiences, partly as an outlet for my own frustrations with the broken and patchy services provided for our elderly relatives, partly because I need my own record of events and also as a means of sharing information without having to tell the same story over and over again.

Being old in the UK is often not a positive experience. Gone are council funded home helps, replaced by brokers looking for the lowest bidder for an elderly person’s care.  Dehumanising language is the order of the day and doesn’t even seem to be noticed.  I could go on…and probably will!

I don’t live in the same town as Mum.  She remains independent at home with the help of  council funded private care agencies.  At the time of reviving this blog (October 2015) she receives 4 calls a day to help with her personal care, getting up and putting to bed, washing etc.  I cook her meals (to freeze and be reheated) clean the house, handle her finances and admin (I could write a whole blog on it’s own about the National Grid) and liaise with care agencies, social workers, doctors, district nurses and hospitals.

mum_filter_blog

There are big gaps in this blog, not because there was nothing to write.   One of the problems with documenting this ‘journey’ is that when issues arise and I start dealing with bureaucracy, writing emails and making endless phone calls I often don’t have the energy to write. When there is  a lull and things go quiet I don’t even want to think about what’s gone on in the past, just forget it and move forward. I suspect I’m not the only person who feels like this and consequently a lot of the issues do not get reported.

This is my Mum’s story. #socialcare #elderlycare

(hint: if you’re not familiar with this story and you also possess an unusual amount of stamina you may want to start at the earliest post and work your way through with the pink button at the bottom of each post)

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Summoned

I had a call early this morning from the nurse looking after Mum to say that the registrar wanted to talk to me and could I get over today. We arranged that I would go at about 12 noon.  I suspected, from the experience of the last four occasions, that this was the ‘there is nothing more we can do for her’ talk.  The last time I insisted that we did this over the phone because frankly, I knew what they were going to say and didn’t actually need to make a special journey to hear it person.  Of course, Mum was fine after a few days. I didn’t have the energy to argue this time and of course I needed to see Mum anyway so no harm to combine the two.

It never quite works out though.  After I’d made my way though the hospital maze and found Mum I asked a doctor at the nurse’s station if they were the person I needed to talk to, she said yes but that she’d ‘be in in a minute’ waving me towards Mum’s bay.

Mum didn’t look too great, unconscious and struggling for breath in her oxygen mask, but when I started talking to her she began to come round.  It was lunch time and the nurses had only brought her a yoghurt because they couldn’t get her to wake up at breakfast time.  Mum indicated that she’d like more than a yoghurt and I fed her some bolognese pasta type thing.  She was quite chatty by now and although a little confused  she was talking about things that had happened last week.

Still no sign of the doctor who I might have had an appointment with but then another doctor arrived to take a blood sample.  During the couple of minutes she was at Mum’s bedside she asked if I would like a catch up of what’s been going on.  Yes, please.  She told me in semi-whispers (Mum was alert and within hearing) that the consultant had decided that she was not a suitable candidate for non-invasive ventilation and they were basically just supporting her.  Pause.  I’m thinking…is this code for letting her die?  I said, “You know we’ve been here before ?”  When I explained about the other occasions she said, “Oh that explains it, I thought you were being very brave.”  Hmm, so it WAS code.  This unsatisfactory conversation was concluded when she’d taken Mum’s blood.   I wanted to follow her outside to get a fuller picture but she’d asked me to hold down the cotton wool on Mum’s puncture wound for a minute and by the time I went outside to find her she’d long gone.

I asked one of the nurses if that was the ‘appointment’ and she confirmed that it was.  Hmmm.

After visiting with Mum a while longer I left and went down to her house to make sure everything was as it should be.

Oh dear, there were open bags of sheets left next to her kitchen, urine soaked nightclothes left on the floor of the kitchen, milk left opened and out of the fridge on the kitchen worktop and general mess, empty bottles not put in the bin, no liner put in the bin..it just goes on and on.

After quite a stressful few days I need a break for a day  but then I’m looking forward to having a real good clean up at Mum’s.

Back to hospital

Mum has not been feeling well the last couple of days, her breathing has deteriorated and she pressed her alarm on Monday night.  The paramedics attended to her and wanted her to go into hospital but she refused. They called out her own doctor who saw her yesterday, Tuesday and he said she needed to go into hospital but again she refused.  The reason she refuses to go into hospital is because it is so difficult to get her home again once she’s in there.

I had a chat with her doctor who said it would be useful if I could persuade her that she needed to be admitted and that’s what I did, albeit somewhat reluctantly.

She went in yesterday afternoon and I was told at that point that she was ‘fine’ and they weren’t sure that they would be keeping her.  They would let me know if they sent her home.

After hearing nothing I rang at 5am this morning to be told she’d been moved to a medical ward and when I spoke to the Sister there she told me that Mum’s breathing had deteriorated and she was currently being assessed by an intensive care doctor.  It sounds  and is serious, however if you’ve read more of this blog you’ll know that Mum has a habit of bouncing back and we’ve been in this exact same position four times before.  Fingers crossed!

And the band played on..

I’ve been quiet lately, but unfortunately not because everything has been running slowly rather I’ve felt silenced.

As I mentioned in December Mum’s current agency had been on the edge of terminating their contract because allegedly Mum was so ‘difficult’.  None of this really made a lot of sense to me but nonetheless I changed my usual policy of expressing my concerns at an early stage to nip potential problems in the bud and kept quiet.  I felt that as we would be moving to a new agency soon it was better not to rock the boat in case that accelerated the decision by the current agency to terminate the contract and Mum would have to go into a care home.

Then we had some good news.  A permanent agency was found, after about 3 months of searching Mum’s social worker had found one and they are due to start this Thursday 14th.

All good except on Friday last I received a disturbing phone call.  Mum had been having some issues with the personal alarm pendant that she wears at all times in case she has a fall or feels ill.  A technician came out to install  a new one and after he’d been there a while he rang me to say that he was so incensed at the treatment of my Mum by a carer that he had to let me know what was going on.  Apparently she was rude, patronising and left the front door wide open during her visit because she said the house smelled.  When Mum said that she was getting a new agency the worker apparently said, ‘Good, nobody likes you, we all hate you’.  She left Mum with a dinner that wasn’t heated properly and the technician himself heated it up for her after the carer had left.

Although Mum gets on really well with several of her carers she has also told me that some are being ‘horrible’ to her, but the problem is that by the time she tells me about it she can’t remember when it happened or the name of the carer so it’s impossible to follow up, but I have had an underlying feeling that things are not right and some of the ‘difficult’ behaviour from Mum might be a response to how she’s being treated.

Of course I couldn’t sit back on this incident and in a horrible way it was heartening to have a completely independent witness.  There was nothing vague about this.  I put together a formal complaint.  The more general part of the complaint you can see here, along with all the photos of the recent chaos.

 

 

Delayed discharge aka bed blocking

I really find it hard to understand this issue and maybe I’m missing something. The government privatise home care, so any agency supplying services to the elderly in their own home need to make a profit for their shareholders. So instead of our taxes being soley used to give the best service to the elderly a portion is siphoned off to the directors/private equity owners. Then social services are told to make stringent reductions in their spending. Less elderly people are eligible for help and the ones that still qualify are put out to tender for the lowest bid. As this race to the bottom continues care agencies realise that maybe this industry isn’t the cash cow that it appeared to be when first privatised. Some of the biggest names in domiciliary care are deep in debt and look dangerously close to withdrawing from the industry altogether. When the ‘living wage’ becomes law next year things will get even worse.

Industry watchdogs and the media have been predicting a crisis, not only for the domiciliary industry but also for the NHS, with the vulnerable elderly being admitted to hospital more often and being trapped with no home care package available to enable them to return home, as happened to Mum.

So what’s the solution? The government are considering opening up care homes as an interim measure to get patients out of hospital. This ‘temporary’ solution will enable a suitable care package or permanent care hom place to be found.

Even if you don’t take into account the traumatic effect of moving into a care home when you expected to return home, in purely economic terms surely it’s more cost effective to provide adequate domiciliary services in the first place rather than having to fund alternatives.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35052629

Here we go again ….

Just as a by the way, on Sunday we had a problem with the our car. What should have been a 2 hour job took a couple of days and we finally got it back last night. So added to all the other frustrations I hadn’t been able to go over to Mum’s to see for myself what and where her tablets were.

Generally, Mum seems to have been getting on much better lately with the care staff. She’s described at least two of them as ‘brilliant’ and wants me to buy Christmas presents for them. Great! I’ve also had two amicable chats with the care agency co-ordinator recently. She said she’d been down to see my Mum a couple of times and got on really well with her, saying she was quite a laugh. She also said she was seeing Mum’s ‘softer side’. This sparked a conversation around how feeling ill can alter’s person’s personality in a negative way and also about labelling. A few bad days and that person can be labelled in the system as ‘difficult’ forever. We agreed on this, she said she’d seen it happen to people before.

Late yesterday afternoon I had a call from Mum’s social worker. The care agency co-ordinator had rang him to say that Mum was now so difficult that only one carer is prepared to take on her evening call. They are going to terminate her contract. As they are a short term agency they don’t have to give any notice and although there has been an ongoing search for another agency since she left hospital there is nothing in the pipeline. The only alternative is for Mum to go into ‘respite care’ – a care home, while the search goes on for another home care agency.

Both the social worker and I are puzzled by the unexpected and sudden nature of this decision. Apparently the last contact the social worker had with the co-ordinator she had said that things were going very well. No problems. Now she was saying that Mum had not been behaving the last couple of days. Given that she knows Mum has been unwell and the conversation we’d had around that it seems strange.

Now maybe I’m being paranoid here but maybe this has more to do with what happened at the weekend?

 

Update on the medication debacle

Monday morning arrived and everyone was back in their respective offices. Time for some clarification.

I rang Mum’s doctors, fundamentally to request that unless it was medically necessary could they please refrain from putting an exact time on the medication because of the confusion it causes. The receptionist told me that the script didn’t say 8am and 6pm, just to be taken with food 4 times a day. Whaaa???

To cut a very long and confusing story short and after a phone call to the pharmacy it transpires that the antibiotices WERE NOT DELIVERED on Friday. I can’t pin down exactly where it went wrong because the parties involved are being vague, but communication broke down somewhere between the doctor’s surgery and the pharmacy. There WAS a delivery on Friday from the pharmacy but it was Mum’s normal medication without added antibiotics.

Added to this the care agency coordinator was at Mum’s house on Friday evening and had said that she couldn’t give her one of the tablets because she’d already taken it earlier and she didn’t want to give her a double dose. And so it was that Mum thought the antibiotic was being withheld. The antibiotic that wasn’t even in the house.

So all the hassle over the weekend was for nothing, although the reaction to the problem is still disturbing.

Mum finally got her medication on Monday, is taking it and is beginning to feel better.

However it seems we may have some repurcusions….

Just press Start

This may seem a trivial problem given the other issues, but small stuff has a habit of building up….

Carers don’t do laundry. Let me qualify that and say care agencies who are funded by social services, in my experience, state up front that they won’t do laundry.

We need to look at the word laundry here and define what it actually means. When I was a kid we had a ‘washing’ day. The whole day would be taken up with my Mum, wreathed in steam, at the kitchen sink. Her hands would be red as she scrubbed at the hand washing (in the days before synthetic fibres all our clothes were either cotton or wool). The huge tank of a top loading washing machine would be swirling sheets around. Sometimes I would be allowed to feed the heavy flannelette sheets through the automated wringer. The wet washing would be loaded into a washing basket and hauled into the garden and everything would be hung on the washing line and then the skies would need to be watched for any sign of rain. You get the picture, washing day was labour intensive and hard work.

laundry

Back to the present day and when care agencies state that they don’t do laundry I think they have that 1950s image in their heads.

My Mum has a modern washing machine with a built in tumble drier and her laundry consists of a polycotton nightdress, occasionally a fleecy synthetic dresssing gown and her duvet cover. That’s it. Her sheets are laundered by the council via their Incontinence Laundry Service.

In the past every care agency, after initially saying they don’t and won’t do laundry, when they’ve realised how little this task actually involves and how much difference it makes have done it, as an ‘act of kindness’.

Not this time, however. The agency do change her wet bed every morning and put the sheets in a bag for the incontinence laundry service but the majority of carers refuse to put the duvet covers in the washing machine.

So what do they do with the urine soaked duvet covers?  We’ve had several scenarios from leaving it, unbagged, on the carpeted floor of her utility room to putting it in an open bag and leaving it in her kitchen, almost next to the washing machine. I can’t get over to Mum’s every day so this inevitably leads to a build up of smelly washing left in various places around the house. After several phone calls to the office I may have finally got them to put the washing in a plastic bag and close it with a knot. I really feel like saying maybe you can put it in the big, white square bag with the knobs on. Throw in a tablet and press Start. Several hours later my Mum would have clean and dry laundry. How is that so difficult?

The extra 30 seconds to a minute of time it would take to put a tablet in the machine and press the start button can’t be the issue. Mum is allocated a 30 minute call at lunchtime which, according to my telephone logs, typically lasts around 10 to 12 minutes. So there is plenty of time…..

The butterfly wing effect of the care agency not doing Mum’s washing is that this week she told me that her stock of duvet cover’s had run out. Mum uses a waterproof duvet, which is fine when it’s in a cover but plasticky and unpleasant without. One of the carers had found another sheet to put between her and the duvet but of course it kept slipping off. Surely all this extra hassle and discomfort could have been avoided?

According to Mum the duvet itself has now been ripped, no doubt due to being used without a cover.

 

“It wouldn’t stand up in a court of law….

I’ve been quiet lately. There has been stuff going on but sometimes when I’m trying to get an issue dealt with it’s too difficult to blog about it at the same time. However….

Thursday
The last couple of days Mum has been behaving a bit strangely. On Thursday morning I received a call from the care agency to say that an ambulance had been called because Mum had been difficult to wake up and didn’t appear to know who the carer was. When the paramedics arrived they checked her over and found her to be fine, apart from her blood sugar being a bit low. ( Don’t get me started on the issue of my insulin dependant diabetic Mum being left for long periods in the morning without food). She improved quickly and the paramedics didn’t insist that she went to hospital.
I was concerned that the apparent confusion may be the start of another urinary tract infection that always brings with it changes to behaviour and even delirium. When I spoke to the care agency coordinator later she said that the district nurse would be taking a urine sample for analysis the next day, Friday.

Friday
For whatever reason the district nurse didn’t collect a sample on Friday and I was anxious that this situation was being left. I’m always suprised that there isn’t more urgency around the treatment of UTI’s in elderly patients given the likliehood of serious cognitive issues. There also appears to be a basic lack of knowledge with some carers believing that there can’t be a UTI if there is no odour.

Here is a sampling of some of the posts on this topic from http://blog.alz.org

  • “For me, falling and hallucinations always mean check for UTI”
  • “Our compromised elders, especially females often develop, “silent” urinary tract infections. These UTIs are called “silent” because they usually have no symptoms of pain, no burning, no odor, no frequency, etc. BUT there will often be profound changes in behaviors.”
  • “UTI, UTI, UTI, UTI, UTI! When my mother has a UTI she sleeps all day. We can’t get her out of bed, she will also stop eating. Have the doctor check her for a UTI. “
  • “UTI and dehydration!!!!! I’ve never been so happy to get that kind of diagnosis. They have her on IV antibiotics. The interesting thing was that her urine was clear and they were pretty sure she didn’t have a UTI. Luckily the testing came back positive.”
  • “With my aunt, I could always diagnose the UTI because she started acting crazier than her current norm. (When she picked up a glass of water and threw the water over her shoulder, I called it right away —UTI.)”

I was worried that if Mum was left without treatment and the weekend looming that she would again end up in hospital so I rang her G.P.’s surgery. The receptionist said that she would look into it. At about 5.15pm that evening my Mum’s G.P. rang. He’s a new doctor at the surgery and has never met Mum but when I explained the situation he said he had come across this many times before with elderly patients in care homes. He said he would write her a prescription for antibiotics and ring it through to the pharmacy and hopefully they would be able to deliver it before they closed for the evening. I was relieved, impressed and happy in the knowledge that Mum would be able to start her medication tonight.

Saturday
Mum rang me this morning at about 9.30am to say she was still in bed with no sign of a carer arriving to help get her up. I asked her if her medication had been delivered and if she had taken her first antibiotic last night. Yes it had been delivered but no she hadn’t taken the tablet. She told me the carer had told her she couldn’t give her the antibiotic last night because on the packaging it stated Mum was to take one tablet at 8.00am and one tablet at 6.00pm. It had gone 6 o’clock so she couldn’t give Mum the tablet!!! Yes, really..you read that right. Mum was anxious because it was now 9.30am and she wouldn’t be given her 8.00am tablet.

I immediately rang the care agency who said yes this would be correct, they have to adhere to whatever time is on the packaging – it could give Mum a heart attack if she took the tablet at the wrong time. Mum’s carers rarely come at the same time each day and never at 8am or 6pm so by this logic Mum would never be given her antibiotics at all. And why did they choose not to inform me or anyone else of their decision not to give Mum her medication? The woman I spoke to said she would try and contact a pharmacy for advice. My Mum’s own pharmacy is not open on Saturdays (I know that is weird!) and being a Saturday I wouldn’t be able to contact her own G.P.

To try and get some advice and clarification I rang the NHS advice line. They were extremely helpful and the woman I spoke to contacted a specialist clinician who’s role it is to give advice about medication. A very strong message came back that Mum MUST be given her medication and that the specific timing was irrelavant as long as she had one in the morning and one in the evening. I was left in no doubt that the actions of the care agency were considered irresponsible and dangerous. They said it shouldn’t have fallen back on me to discover that they hadn’t administered her medication and I was advised to ring the care agency again and insist that she should be given the tablets and that if I ‘had any trouble’ to get back to the NHS help line immediately.

The care agency worker’s words were ‘It doesn’t matter to me what the NHS said, it wouldn’t stand up in a court of law that you were told by the NHS help line that she should be given her tablets – I need it in writing’. She said she had contacted a pharmacy who were going to fax her the authorisation to give Mum her medication. Wow. All this had taken several hours, but now at least it seemed Mum would be given her medication.

I rang Mum. She was now in the process of getting up and both the district nurse and the carer were in attendance. I spoke to the district nurse about the omission last night and the need for the antibiotics to begin immediately. She said she was only there to take my mum’s blood and passed me over to the carer! The carer said there were no antibiotics in the house, they had looked everywhere and couldn’t find them. There had been no antibiotics delivered. I couldn’t understand this, did Mum dream the conversation about 8am and 6pm. Eventually the carer looked in the log book to see which carer had been on duty last night and she rang her to ask about the medication. Last night’s carer said that the antibiotic had been included in the new blister packs of Mum’s normal medication that had been delivered last night and that she couldn’t give Mum the antibiotic because ‘it was in a blister pack’. I attempted to get that clarified but she just kept repeating that she couldn’t give Mum her tablet because it was in a blister pack. I gave up at that point and I’m now just keeping my fingers crossed that she will be given her medication.

Why is everything so complicated and time consuming? I’m tired!

To complain or not to complain….

that is the question. I’ve been asked by the hospital if I want to make a formal complaint regarding my Mum’s treatment. As usual after a hospital stay I feel exhuasted, totally drained and the very last thing I want to think about is hospital. Shudder. I also know that if nobody complains nothing will change….sigh. I probably will then.

The process of complaining is not without it’s problems though and Mum has been punished in the past, I believe, because I have complained.

Mum has a Truecall telephone system. You may have seen it featured on Dragon’s Den a few years ago. It’s a call blocking system to keep away cold and spam callers and it is worth its weight in gold. Mum has the tightest security which means people on her ‘trusted’ list go straight through to her completely oblivious of any security but anyone else gets a recorded message telling them to ring me. If Mum makes a call the number she calls is immediately added to her trusted caller’s list. It works so invisibly well that I’m always suprised when I log into her online call log to see how many PIP, and ‘you’ve had an accident recently’ callers tried and failed to get through. If you’re looking after someone vulnerable it’s worth splashing out the £100 it costs. What I didn’t realise when I installed it is that it has another benefit that wasn’t obvious immediately.

As I mentioned it has an online call log. Most home care agencies have a telephone logging system and the carer rings a freephone number from the client’s home phone to log when they arrive and leave. With a Truecall system you can see exactly when that happens which proved to be interesting when Mum used the services of a very well known care agency in 2014.

Even though Mum said she felt rushed and the carer’s were always telling her to hurry up I noticed on the telephone call log that the carer’s were not staying for their allotted (and paid for by social services) time. The 30 minute lunchtime call was never that long and on many occasions lasted for less than 10 minutes. I was being told that Mum was taking too long and yet they were cutting the time of the calls down to get in and out as quickly as possible. So I complained. First of all I was questioned – how did I know? Then they explained that if they could get the call done more quickly that was acceptable. I presumed that they didn’t inform social services and still took the original payment. If, however, Mum’s call went over by even a couple of minutes they complained and Mum would hear about how the staff needed to get to their next call and to hurry up! It didn’t seem right. After I mentioned that I was able to see how long the calls lasted I noticed that the time of her calls increased, more or less, back to the correct times, but they weren’t happy with me!

Shortly after this Mum got gastroentiris, suffering chronic diahorrea. She became upset and embarrassed because the care staff seemed to be blaming her for the mess they had to clean up. Couldn’t she wait? In the end Mum pressed her alarm button, paramedics were called and she was taken into hospital. I believe she pressed the alarm to get away from the ‘blame game’.

Mum was fit to be discharged after 11 days but when the social worker rang the agency to restart the package they refused to take her back. They said they didn’t have capacity, although their contract with social services states that they should hold a place for 14 days when a client goes into hospital. When I contacted them about breaking their contract they changed tack and said that they couldn’t take Mum back because there was not one single carer on their staff who would work with her because she was ‘difficult’. Apparently 15 carers had all complained about her, but, strangely, only after she’d been admitted to hospital. These issues had not been flagged to me nor was there any indication of them in the log books filled in daily and left at Mum’s house. Unless I put secret cameras in Mum’s house (and I have considered it) there was no way to definitively prove their accusations were false. I asked to see documentation with dates and times of these alleged incidents but none were forthcoming. They were adamant they wouldn’t take Mum back and it seemed we had no recourse whatsoever. So I I wrote to the CEO of the company detailing everything that had happened. He said he would look into it and several days later they agreed to take Mum back.

The care agency restarted the package and the agency manager, Mum’s social worker, Mum and I had a meeting. We were told the agency were taking her back on the strict understanding that her ‘behaviour’ improved. I asked for examples of her ‘bad’ behaviour and the manager was vague, I asked again to see the documented ‘incidents’ and she waved a hand…’Oh they’re back at the office, I didn’t bring them’. She said that Mum was on 2 weeks probation, that her behaviour would be monitored and documented on a daily basis and we would meet again after 2 weeks to discuss the report.

Two weeks later. Did I mention that I don’t drive and my long suffering husband drives me to meetings and then finds something to do while I’m attending them? So we get over to my Mum’s, my husband dutifully disappears and I wait for the other attendees. Mum said everything had been fine but I was nervous to find out what the care agency was going to say and if we had to start over again with a new package of care. The social worker arrived and we had a cup of tea, half an hour went by with no sign of the care agency. The social worker made a call. Oh sorry, they’ve forgotten about it, but everything is okay so there is no need for a meeting. WT actual F?? Seriously? Yep. It had gone from an extremely serious issue two weeks ago to now being so insignificant it didn’t even warrant turning up for the follow up meeting. At this stage I felt like they were playing mind games. Of course, Mum was completely bemused by all this fuss because she thought she’d behaved the same all the time and didn’t do anything wrong in the first place. The social worker was ‘a bit cross’ but she said that often care agencies don’t turn up to meetings. I can only assume that demand for care agencies is MUCH more than supply for them to have this degree of power.

There is an end to this story and the agency were always determined to get rid of Mum. I know at a local level they were extremely angry that I had involved their CEO and their ruling was overturned. In the end they gave notice of termination of Mum’s contract at a review meeting. And the reason? The said that Mum had asked one of their carers if she’d put on weight. Seriously. She’d been upset and they have to protect their worker’s feelings so they were dumping Mum. Mum’s social worker was not impressed and said she would be reporting them to the Commissioning Team (I believe they are the organisation within the council who hands out contracts to care agencies). I’m not sure how much, if any, difference that made.

Mum was allocated a new care agency. She was with them for about 6 months (losing the contract only when she went into hospital again) and there was not one complaint about her, not even a hint.

From my point of view I believe Mum lost the first agency because I complained that they weren’t keeping to their times and they were looking for a way to get rid of her from then onwards. I’m sure it’s much easier to look after elderly people who don’t have anyone to poke their noses in and discover what’s really going on.

A little turbulence

Getting Mum home, of course, was only the beginning of new and different issues and she had a couple of meltdowns during the first few days. I was puzzled, it was unusual for her to react like this and I was worried that she’d become institutionalised and might not settle. However, I I was relieved to have a chat with the manager who told me that they are a short term, ‘enabling’ agency, for people who need to get back on their feet after leaving hospital. They don’t usually take on ‘cases’ like my Mum and she said that, at times, her staff felt overwhelmed. It made a lot more sense to know that.

I spoke to Mum’s new ‘outside’ social worker and we have an appointment arranged for Monday, next week. I imagine that we’ll be able to look at getting another agency on board as this one is only short term.